Africa’s Omicron-fueled COVID-19 wave ending
After a six-week surge, Africa’s fourth pandemic wave, which has been mainly driven by the Omicron variant, is flattening, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
WHO said that this marked
the shortest surge since the pandemic began on the continent, where total cases
have exceeded 10.2 million.
Recorded cases of infection show
that the weekly number plateaued in the seven days leading up to 9 January,
from the previous week.
“Early indications suggest that
Africa’s fourth wave has been steep and brief but no less destabilizing”, WHO’s
Regional Director for Africa, Matshidiso Moeti said on Thursday.
In countries experiencing a surge
in cases, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has become the dominant type.
While it took around four weeks
for the Delta variant to surpass the previously dominant Beta, Omicron outpaced
Delta within two weeks in the worst-hit African countries, according to WHO.
Southern Africa saw a huge
increase in infections during the pandemic wave but recorded a 14 per cent
decline in confirmed cases over the past week.
And South Africa, where Omicron
was first reported, saw a nine per cent fall in weekly infections.
While East and Central Africa
regions also experienced falling numbers of cases, North and West Africa are
seeing a rise in infections, with North Africa reporting a 121 per cent
increase over the past week, compared with the previous seven days.
“The crucial pandemic
countermeasure badly needed in Africa still stands, and that is rapidly and
significantly increasing COVID-19 vaccinations”, said the senior WHO
official. “The next wave might not be so forgiving”.
While the continent appears to
be weathering the latest pandemic wave, only around 10 per cent of the
population have been fully vaccinated.
However, vaccine supplies to
Africa have improved recently, and WHO is stepping up its support to countries
to deliver doses to the wider population.
“This year should mark a turning point in Africa’s COVID-19 vaccination drive”, said Dr. Moeti.